Sunday, June 10, 2012

You give that thing back, or else!

Lake of the Woods country

Western Newfoundland country
Note: Most of you are readers, so you might be interested in a new blog I've started. See the note in the right-hand column.
With Bruno Klassen's permission, I'm publishing his letter to me in response to the last blog -- as my first "guest blogger." (Others are welcome to submit, of course). Bruno has gone from retail grocer in Rosthern to other pursuits in the last decade or so and his comments are recollections of incidents of "petty crime" in his store. Restitution is often a sore point and largely unresolved. Levitical law said that if a man killed another man's son, he was obliged to give his own son to that man in restitution. But let's let Bruno tell us about more modern times from his perspective.
A topic [crime and punishment] was
quite important to met at one time. One of the objects of sentencing that seems to be ignored is restitution. After twenty five years of trying to nab a very skilled, known thief, I finally did catch him and for all my trouble, he paid a $50 fine and I got nothing. I apprehended a thief that had stolen a dress from me, the dress was taken as evidence, returned to me two years later, and there was no restitution.
    I'm not an advocate of imprisonment, but I am an advocate of dealing with crime. I recall making an effort to help a disadvantaged shoplifter and when I mentioned this to the police, they advised that this not be put in the report because the courts frowned on the perpetrator and victim dealing with each other. (Italics mine, ge.)
   I used to try to be "redemptive" by not charging shoplifters, but it became apparent that in many cases the only way to make people face up to their problem was to charge them. There are people whom I did not have charged, and regret it to this day because they have never faced up to their issues.
  Two things did work well. One was offering a shoplifter the chance to make restitution. The first case [I recall] was a known thief, and when given the chance to make restitution brought in $1000. (The lawyer said it was not blackmail, but compensation for stolen goods!?) Our relationship was maintained, and he continued to shop - but hopefully not lift!
   The other was a lifter who was known to have stolen at several businesses and I caught her at our store. I decided to have her charged so she would have to face up to her problems. She had a "sentencing circle" arranged at which her family, the other businesses, her pastor and several friends attended. It was good for all involved.
   I recall a man who stole cookies from the store and was finally turned in by his wife: "I don't care if you put him in jail, I want it stopped!" We caught him and when I asked how long he had lived in town, he said 8 years. We calculated that to be about 2400
business days so he would have stolen 2400 cookies over the years. To his shock this came to several hundred dollars, but I loved his first line of defense, "Some stormy days I couldn't come in!"


1 comment:

  1. This comment received from friend Stan, pharmacist

    Good morning, George

    I've just read Bruno's letter. It is very true but at times we do get surprised by people's growth with time. I remember two instances over my 37 year retail career.

    The first, I was manning the till as the girls were out for coffee. A young man had returned for his 10 year grad from RJC. He came to the counter with the most expensive pair of sunglasses from the stand. He paid for them and started to walk out without the glasses. I reminded him to take the glasses and his response surprised me. "I stole a pair of glasses here 10 years ago and it has bothered me ever since. I'm sorry."

    On another occasion I was opening the mail and an unmarked envelope had $20.00 in it with a short note, "I'm being baptized and am joining the church and I feel I have to make things right. I stole from you many years ago when I was a young boy. Please accept this and forgive me."

    I know these are only a few examples but sometimes I look back on these and feel better.